A Delhi court on Monday declared four directors of a Gujarat-based pharma firm, Sterling Biotech Ltd (SBL), “fugitive economic offenders” in a Rs 8,100-crore bank fraud case.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana passed the order on a plea filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
“I have no hesitation in observing that this court is satisfied that the Petitioner has successfully pleaded and proved that the Respondents herein are fugitive economic offenders…It is hereby declared that accused Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Jayantilal Sandesra and Hiteshkumar Narendrabhai Patel are fugitive economic offenders,” the order said.
The ED had told the court that the accused had fled the country and were evading the process of law to face criminal prosecution.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the ED, submitted that open ended non-bailable warrants have been issued by the court against the respondents who “have fled from the country and are evading the process of law to face criminal prosecution”. He also argued that the respondents have “chosen deliberately not to return back to the country and to face trial” and that they were
“shifting their base from one country to another to escape the clutches of law”.
The counsel for the respondents, including Vikram Chaudhari and Hemant Shah for the Sanderas, drew the attention of the judge towards a Supreme Court order from 2019 which directed that no coercive steps be taken against the respondents.
Their counsel argued that “the effect of ‘no coercive action’ would automatically render the warrants issued by this Court in relation to PMLA proceedings to be inoperative”.
The ED, on the contrary, argued that “an interim order directing ‘no coercive steps’ cannot be construed to mean cancellation of NBWs”.
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